Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Can A Little Strategy Knowledge Actually Be Dangerous?

Continuing the 'things to think about' theme today with a question that I see alluded to but very rarely explicitly asked... Is Poker Strategy Knowledge Actually Dangerous?

On blogs and forums all over the web we see examples of people who made the 'right plays' and lost their money. We look back to when calling a big raise with a rag-ace was the norm (we did not know any better right!) and somehow those final tables, SNG wins and big cash-game pots were shipped our way.

So, what could be the issue here? Are we applying strategy that might work against thinking players to those who do not think in the same way? Are those of us who carry on with poker and learn strategy a self-selecting sample of people who 'ran good' for their first 6 months (ie, if we had not seen the positive side of varience early would our interest in the game have faded away?), are we mis-applying strategy due to incomplete understanding? Not patient enough or not applying discipline and bankroll management?

Many possible ways of tackling this question - but hell, I'll tackle it anyway over the coming week or two.... anyone with any thoughts on this phenominon (losing money even though ones understanding has improved) is welcome to drop a comment with their thoughts in the meantime!

On a separate note I made my first decent final table in a while yesterday in the Full Tilt $9.5k gtd Knockout... ended up 8th of 660-odd which was a shame, but got my money in good even then. Not feeling the urge to play too much and actually deciding on when to have a session in advance these days - might flesh out my ideas on the 'paths' of interest / obsessiveness etc that different players take at some point soon too... for now, back to work on the planet empire!

GL at the tables, Mark

1 comment: said...

Hi Mark,

I haven't been on your blog in a while. Nice to see you are still writing.

As to your question about strategy knowledge, interesting! As I think back to the early days, before I know anything about strategy, I didn't know what a bad beat was, but I probably gave more of them than I received. And when I received a bad beat it wasn't in my mind that the other player made a bad decision, it was because they got lucky! Back then it was part of the game. But to your point, the more you learn about the "proper" way to play, the more frustrating it can be when people make bad plays and get rewarded for it.

But of course, everything I just wrote assumes that the other player agrees with my strategy and is selecting not to follow it. What if they have a different strategy, are playing it exactly as intended, and the results are because they have a better strategy than mine. In that case, strategy can be a good thing, as long as you are following the right strategy?

So that begs the next question... how do you know you are following the right strategy?

Looking forward to your writing about this topic!